The mission of the Texas Apiary Inspection Service is to safeguard the apiary industry of Texas through the application of science-based regulations, educational opportunities and open communication with the industry.
The importance of honey bees has long been recognized in Texas. Today’s Texas beekeepers must appreciate the effort and work that went into early Texas beekeeping in the areas of research, education and disease control.
In 1901, the 27th Legislature authorized the establishment of an apiary at Texas A&M College for research and teaching purposes and appropriated money for the same. Wilmon Newell was hired as an apiculturist. Mr. Newell started foulbrood inspection in the state at that time and assisted later in getting the first foulbrood inspection law on the books. A bill for the suppression and control of foulbrood and other diseases of bees was introduced and passed in the 28th Legislature by the Honorable Hal Sevier of Sabinal, Texas. After 1910, Mr. Newell established a system of county inspectors which became a systematic campaign for foulbrood control in Texas.
The Texas Beekeepers Association met July 7-10, 1903, at the A&M College at College Station, Texas. It should be noted that Texas beekeepers and Texas A&M have a long history of cooperation in working to further Texas beekeeping.
Wilmon Newell again must be mentioned as being very influential in the early period of apiary inspection in Texas. Through his efforts, the foulbrood law was rewritten in 1913 and remains the basis for today’s bee laws. Prior to 1920, foulbrood inspection was done by local inspectors. In 1920, a state inspection system with services of some local inspectors was organized. C.S. Rude was employed as the first Chief Foulbrood Inspector in 1920 and served five years. This service, from the beginning, was administered by the Entomology Department of Texas A&M.
Quite a few foulbrood inspectors were involved during the 1920’s and 1930’s due to severe issues with foulbrood disease. Some of Texas A&M’s history lists 24 different foulbrood inspectors from 1920 through 1946, some merely serving on a local basis. C.E. Heard was listed in agricultural bulletins as the Chief Inspector from about 1931 through somewhere around the mid 1930’s. The position around this time was classified as the State Expert Entomologist.
The Texas Almanac, for several years during the 1930’s, lists no name for the position. A Dr. F.L. Thomas held the position from around the 1930’s to somewhere in the early 1950’s. Claude J. Burgin, who had previously worked at the San Antonio Bee Research Lab, became Chief Inspector about 1953 or 1954 and served in that position until his retirement in 1975. Mr. Burgin was also the President of Apiary Inspectors of America in 1956. Paul W. Jackson became Chief Foulbrood Inspector in 1975 and led the agency through the first U.S. find of tracheal mites and the entrance of the Africanized Honey Bee into the U.S. The varroa mite and small hive beetle also came into the beekeeping picture. The title of State Entomologist was changed in 1985 to that of Chief Apiary Inspector. Paul Jackson retired in 2013 after serving the agency for 38 years.
Currently TAIS conducts hundreds of inspections each year. A majority of these inspections are of commercial apiary operations to provide them with the needed permits for interstate pollination contracts. In addition to inspections TAIS also assists the beekeepers of Texas by providing educational opportunities. Members of TAIS speak regularly at bee club meetings throughout Texas. The TAIS chief also has a recurring article in the Texas Beekeepers Association Journal where he writes about various topics facing the beekeeping industry here in Texas and beyond. TAIS is committed to providing the best possible service to the apiary industry of Texas.
The Texas Apiary Inspection Service is housed at the Janice and John G. Thomas Honey Bee Facility located on the Riverside Campus of Texas A&M in College Station Texas. TAIS shares this facility with Dr. Juliana Rangel’s Honey Bee Lab.